Pinpoint Staff Picks: Halloween Haunts Pinpoint Staff Picks: Halloween Haunts

Pinpoint Staff Picks: Halloween Haunts

We here at Pinpoint Music pride ourselves in our personal music choices. With this pride comes a certain obligation to regal anyone within shouting distance certain recommendations based on seemingly banal holidays. Take Halloween for example. You might be dressing yourself up in your cleaver costume ready for a party full of friends, laughs and warm memories. That is fine but we here at Pinpoint also are throwing a party. This is why you are here. Sure you don’t know anyone and only one of us decided to dress up but what we lack in necessary social skills, we make up for in musical knowledge. While our party doesn’t have food, beer or spooky decorations, it does have a dedicated fan base of music writers with opinions. Our staff has gotten together and decided to share their favorite Halloween records with you. You should feel special rather than nervous tension as you were brought here under false pretenses which may or may not involved a sack and van. We are nice people. I promise you. Have a seat while each of our staff members takes you on a carnival ride through the landscape of fear and musical terror. Be sure to grab the goody bag in the back before you leave. Charles was suppose to bring the candy but we had to make do with some office supplies and loose change. Happy Halloween. Stop crying. You’ll get to go home soon.

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Cult Of the Psychic Fetus - She Devil (2000)

Kaptain Carbon

Before we begin with Cult of the Psychic Fetus, we must start at psychobilly. Psychobilly is the frantic version of rockabilly addled with amphetamines, horror movies and punk rock. The style begins, arguably in the 1980’s, with The Cramps and other garage punk acts. Since then, psychobilly has not only developed a musical identify but a thematic and visual style dedicated to b-grade horror and science fiction films. The style has also begun splintering to substyles which leads us to “gothabilly.” Terrible name aside, gothabllly shares psychobilly’s thematic elements and embrace of pre-60’s Americana but with a much slower tempo. When psychobilly rages on flame powered hearse, gothabilly rides a slow skeletal carriage. Cult of the Psychic Fetus shines in the gothabilly genre as the undead foursome plays a swaggering blend of dead surf, ghost country and zombie boogie woogie. She Devil has been one of my top hidden gems as its existence and legacy is nowhere near the level it deserves. Frontman Reverend Doom is the incarnation of a reanimated Elvis Presley who still reeks of rotting flesh. The album sits comfortably between a five year existence which was terminated in 2004 with the release of Funeral Home Sessions. Since then, the band has been stirring in their mausoleums promising to walk the earth once again. When that happens, it will be Halloween all the time. For now, I will sit and wait on the couch with my skeleton costume and plastic pumpkin bucket. She Devil is a fistfight between Dracula and the Wolfman drowned under the screams from an undead throng. It is as hilarious and entertaining as a ride through a broken haunted house.

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Oingo Boingo - Farewell (1995)

Daniel Geoghegan

Danny Elfman, master of creepy composition (see: any Tim Burton film, ever) and his band Oingo Boingo decided to call it quits in 1995. And what better way to go out than a farewell concert on Halloween night? Held at the Universal Amphitheater in L.A., fans poured out, in elaborate costumes to celebrate the end of a great, bizarre career. What happens if you pack an amphitheater with nerds that love Halloween, have incredible set design, and Oingo Boingo playing on stage? The greatest Halloween party ever! What happens when you release a live album and video of the concert? Something for high school nerds too unpopular to go to actual parties (see: my friends and I) to actually do on Halloween. With reworked compositions and an abundance of energy, this recording gave us some of the best versions of Oingo Boingo’s songs, and it’s just incredibly fun to listen to. For me, Oingo Boingo: Farewell will always be Halloween.

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Godflesh - Streetcleaner (1989)

Charles

I never listen to this record. Ever… EVEREVER!!! Okay, maybe not EVEREVER ever (that emphasis’s reserved for Controlled Bleeding’s Knees and Bones which I only recommended once to a gal who used to book shows for Pussy Galore and after she heard it we didn’t talk for a month) but Streetcleaner’s the sort of album that only seems to rumble it’s gargantuan weight back into my life when things have gotten so pointedly, personally apocalyptic that sticking knitting needles through my tits while watching the (once condemned) works of Ken Russell is like skipping daisy chains to cut straight for jizz and even then I sometimes wonder if I’m psychically ravaged enough for the onslaught. You see, this record is heavy. Really fucking heavy. Like early Swans dredged through the sewers of Birmingham only to emerge with eight broken limbs, a drum machine and some new, wretched fury targeting all the life and hope and love that’s ever crawled across this doomed rock’s surface with all the boiling bile of a thousand rats. Only somehow less immediate and infinitely less pleasant. It is the end-all magnum opus of Justin K. Broadrick (Jesu, Final, Head of David, Napalm Death) whose nervous breakdown dissolved the band (though they are playing Maryland Metal Fest) and it is fucking amazing. I don’t know if it’s right for a Halloween party. But it is totally ghoulish (the distorted vocals help that adjective considerably), eerie (odd tunings over a dying machine whose languid propulsions evoke sinister beatings from the floor of the death factory) and bleak, bleak, bleak. I wonder if it’s enough to draw the kids in.

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Sonic Youth - Bad Moon Rising (1986)

Brandon Gentry

There are few albums that, to me, embody the inherent spookiness of autumn better than Sonic Youth’s 1985 offering Bad Moon Rising. The group’s third LP (and the one where Thurston and Co. began spending as much time on melodies and hooks as on atonal six-string freakouts), it’s a collection of deceivingly catchy and profoundly disturbing post-punk, as chilly and dim as this season of the witch. First, there’s the cover art: Jim Welling’s photograph of a scarecrow with a flaming jack o’ lantern head crucified against a twilit, vaguely post-apocalyptic NYC cityscape is the stuff of nightmares. That evilly grinning pumpkin, the too-sharp colors of the fire and the skyscrapers and the sunset, the odd mix of modern and oddly medieval-looking architecture in the background. Fucking hell, man, it’s terrifying, that juxtaposition of the supernatural and the familiar, like some sort of pagan sacrifice to Samhain happening in the playground two blocks over. And then there’s the music, some of Sonic Youth’s best. A paean to Reagan’s anxious Cold War America and Koch’s crumbling, bankrupt New York, these are songs that trace urban paranoia and isolation (“Society is a Hole”), the bloodshed of Manifest Destiny (“Ghost Bitch”), desert Manson psychosis (the Lydia Lunch-boasting “Death Valley ‘69”), and sexual dread (“Halloween”). Thurston and Lee use their guitars to conjure up chiming, disaffected dissonance, sounds that draw beauty from their alien textures while still managing to rock. And frankly, Kim Gordon’s vocals never again sounded as spooky as they do here, her Nico-esque three-octave drone/bark the perfect medium for these bizarre, negative creep rants. Bad Moon Rising is the beginning of Sonic Youth’s best period; the next three years would see the release of stone classics Evol, Sister, and Daydream Nation, the success of which would eventually catapult the band into the majors. But it’s on Bad Moon Rising that the band manages to most eloquently capture a specific mood and mindset: fear and depression and ennui rising as the dark closes in on an uncertain nation, its cities abandoned and rotting, the bonfires setting the night skies ablaze. Yikes.



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